ShadowbladeSharp intake of breath.
Pain rose up in Shadowblade’s being like the keening morning wail of the Harpies.
Will triumphed over instinct. Still motionless, he scanned the surroundings with his preternatural senses. Sounds of the forest enveloped him, which meant that the battle and its scavengers had shifted elsewhere. He reached down. His hands felt what the siren of agony had been telling him; legs broken and shattered.So, this is what defeat feels like?
He had expected to feel the rapturous welcome of the halls of Khaine, propelled by the sacrifice of his earthly body by the exploding shards of the Heart of Woe.
But he was alive. Alive and defeated.
Hellebron had replaced his suicide talisman – ineffective against the Armour of Midnight
-- with a Seed of Rebirth
; the mission to kill Malekith so important that his mistress wished for him to rise from near death and re-double his efforts should he be defeated.
Shadowblade felt in his pouches for the crystal. Unbroken. The spell it contained was to be used to transport Malekith’s severed head to Hellebron. Alas, he, the Master of Assassins, would have to bring news of his own disgrace.
He crushed the crystal.
The peace of the forest dispelled as the wind rushed and the air crackled with a sparkling nimbus. A portal formed, its inner walls shimmering mercurial; depths stretching to infinity.
Shadowblade crawled through …and his agony disappeared as his body and mind shattered, atomised and stretched through time into oblivion…
* * * * * * *
He came to consciousness once more.
He felt good. Really good.
He was not in the newly consecrated temple of Khaine. He was somewhere else. Suspended in mid-air in a mist filled room of metal and pulsing lights. Shadowblade flexed, and found his arms and legs bound by what looked like lightning. Magick? He was prisoner. But he was also whole once more.Where am I? Am I dead?
He had not expected the halls of beyond to be so …corporeal.
A door opened, in blazing light. A great horned helmed figure strode purposefully towards him. Shadowblade’s nous detected great cunning, great intelligence and great power behind the brass helm. Could it be?“I am Khaine. And you have done well.”
The voice reverberated around the room.Khaine!?
Shadowblade felt a rush of rage and bloodlust wash over him.“Do not worry of your defeat. You have played your part, and time and again proved your greatness as my servant.”“My Mistress?”“My other servants are none of your concern. All is following my will.”
Shadowblade was heady with emotion as he felt the waves of power radiating from his captor.“I am bound?”“Not bound, but in my mercy, and whole again. What is death without rebirth? Do you not feel how strong you are?”“…yes!”“Once you enter beyond the doors, my servants will treat you as the stories of your youth promised. The afterlife is not so different from the worldly life, and we have much work to do.”
Blinding light once more as the door opened, and the towering figure departed. A thousand questions came to mind for the Master of Assassins, but the smoke grew thick, and again unconsciousness took him…